Amazing Fresh Pasta at Famiglia Baldassare

Famiglia BaldassarreLocation: 122 Geary Avenue, Toronto
Websitehttp://famigliabaldassarre.com/

Famiglia Baldassare is a busy place.  I knew this before I even went there, and yet I was still surprised at how busy it was.

It doesn’t help that the place is absolutely tiny, with maybe four or five small tables.  It gets packed immediately, so your odds of snagging a table are slim.

Famiglia Baldassarre

My dining companion and I wound up eating on one of the handful of tables outside (that may or may not have belonged to the neighbouring coffee shop).  It was cold and drizzly, and yet as soon as I started eating that amazing hand-made pasta, it all clicked into place.  Totally worth it.

The “restaurant” is actually a side business for Famiglia Baldassare; mostly, they supply freshly-made pasta to various restaurants around the GTA.  But if you come at lunch during the week (and are willing to brave the aforementioned crowds), you can choose between two delicious pasta dishes.

Famiglia Baldassarre

On this particular visit, it was cacio e pepe and carbonara.  I went with the carbonara, which was indulgently rich without feeling overly heavy.  It was cheesy and silky and amazing, with satisfying pops of meatiness from the guanciale.  It was maybe a touch too salty, and I wish the guanciale had been crisped up a bit more (it wasn’t really crispy at all), but it was otherwise a superb bowl of carbonara.

And then of course there’s the pasta itself, which is the real star of the show.  A really good fresh pasta is radically different from the dried stuff you can buy at the supermarket.  It’s got that dense, chewy texture that’s fairly irresistible.  It’s so good.

Also: don’t pass on the bread they have off to the side.  It’s some of the best bread I’ve had in a while, so clearly, everything here is pretty great.

Veal Sandwich Greatness at Uno Mustachio

Uno MustachioLocation: 95 Front Street East (inside the St. Lawrence Market)
Websitehttp://www.unomustachio.com/

I’m not sure exactly how long I’ve been eating sandwiches at Uno Mustachio, but it’s been at least a couple of decades, if not longer.

Actually, “sandwiches” isn’t right.  Sandwich.

As far as I’m concerned, there’s only one thing to order at Uno Mustachio: the veal and eggplant sandwich.  The other sandwiches and pastas they have on the menu might be delicious; I’ll never know.  I don’t go there nearly often enough to mess around.  Veal and eggplant for life.

Uno Mustachio

It’s a simple enough sandwich: a fried veal cutlet, a couple of slices of fried eggplant, sauteed onions, peppers, and mushrooms, a generous ladle of tomato sauce, and some hot peppers if you feel like kicking it up a few notches.  It’s all served on a crusty roll that does a great job of holding up to the very messy sandwich without falling apart.

It’s as delicious now as the day I started going there.

You can get fried veal sandwiches all over the city, but (and maybe this is my nostalgia talking), Uno Mustachio is the king.  All of the components are so well prepared, and they all complement each other so well.

Uno Mustachio

The simple but rich tomato sauce is great, and — this is key — they apply it to the top and bottom of the sandwich instead of dunking the fried components right in.  This allows the sandwich to be nice and saucy, but prevents the crispy fried bits from sogging up.

The creamy eggplant complements the meaty veal perfectly, and the whole thing feels so well balanced despite how hefty and messy it is.  It’s easily one of the best sandwiches in the city.

Tasty Slices at Superpoint

SuperpointLocation: 184 Ossington Avenue, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.superpoint.ca/

Getting a reheated slice from a pizza place can be a bit of a dicey proposition.  Reheat a slice for too long and it becomes overly stiff and crunchy; not enough, and the cheese’s goo-factor isn’t there.  Or worse: it’s clammy.

And if the pizza sits on the counter too long, it eventually passes a point of no return; it can only ever be a shadow of its former self.

The slice I just had at Superpoint avoids all of these pitfalls.  It was one of the best reheated slices of pizza I’ve had in ages.

Superpoint

I think it’s the ultra-thin crust; the guy didn’t put it in the oven for much more than 30 seconds, but thanks to how thin it was, that was more than enough to heat it through and re-gooify the cheese.

The crust was actually pretty great, with a pronounced crispiness on its exterior that never felt overly crunchy or crackery.  It still had a pliable chewiness that complimented the crispy exterior perfectly.

This particular slice was pretty simple, with just tomato sauce, cheese, spicy sopressata, and a light sprinkling of parmesan and dried herbs.

Superpoint

It was fantastic.  The salty sopressata contrasted very nicely with the simple, slightly sweet tomato sauce, and there was the perfect proportion of cheese and sauce.  It was one of the better slices I’ve had in quite a while.

Bonus: it only cost five bucks (and that includes tax) for a slice of pizza bigger than my head.

Double bonus: it’s a five minute walk from Bang Bang, which means that for less than ten bucks, you can have a delicious slice of pizza and a scoop of the best ice cream in the city.  That’s about as perfect of a lunch as I can imagine.

Getting a Jaw Workout at the Treadwell Bakery

Treadwell BakeryLocation: 122 Queen Street, Niagara on the Lake
Websitehttps://treadwellcuisine.com/

The perfect pizza crust should be lightly crispy on the outside, with a soft, slightly chewy interior.  Well, the Treadwell Bakery in Niagara on the Lake definitely has the “chewy” thing covered.  They’ve got it covered hard.

On this particular day, they had a couple of types of slices available; the one topped with salami, prosciutto, roasted red pepper, and goat cheese caught my eye.

Treadwell Bakery

The flavours were actually pretty solid; the sweet peppers did a great job of balancing out the salty meats and cheese, and the slice had a garlicky, herby flavour that worked quite well.  It could have used a bit more moisture, but the quality of the ingredients was good; it was a tasty slice of ‘suh.

Treadwell Bakery

Then there was the crust.  Calling it chewy doesn’t quite communicate the enormity of what was going on here.  It was downright rubbery; I was having a hard time even biting into it.  When I say that it was a jaw workout, I’m not exaggerating to make a point.  My jaw was literally sore by the time I finished the slice.  It was nuts.

I still actually kind of enjoyed it, which tells you how good it was otherwise.  But man, that crust.  What the hell happened there??

Decent Pizza at Scaddabush

ScaddabushLocation1900 The Queensway, Etobicoke
Websitehttp://www.scaddabush.com/

I’ve mentioned before that Scaddabush is a surprisingly good casual chain restaurant; well, I just tried the pizza, and yeah, I still like the place.

I got the Mario: “prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, San Marzano tomato sauce, baby arugula.”

It’s good — it’s not mind-blowing, but I certainly enjoyed eating it a heck of a lot more than the pizza at Pizzeria Libretto.

Scaddabush

The crust is basically Roman-style — thin and a little bit bready, with a satisfying amount of crispiness on its exterior.  It’s not bad at all.  And the toppings are solid.  The tomato sauce is slightly garlicky and not over-applied, and the salty prosciutto and peppery arugula work quite well together.

It’s nothing that anyone’s going to get too excited over — but like everything else at Scaddabush, it’s better than you’d think, given the quality of the competition.